The family of Amanda Knox tried to get actress Hayden Panettiere to meet with the imprisoned American woman before starring in the new Lifetime movie "Amanda Knox: Murder On Trial In Italy."
A trailer for the Lifetime channel movie, which airs Feb. 21, debuted on the Internet this week and has upset both Knox's family as well as the family of Meredith Kercher, the British woman who Knox was convicted of killing on Nov. 1, 2007.
The trailer indicates there are graphic scenes in the movie. One quick segment shows Kercher stripped down to her bra, pinned to the floor and screaming as she is groped by Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede, two men convicted along with Knox in the killing.
Another scene shows Knox in bed with Sollecito in a steamy sex scene.
Amanda Knox's stepfather, who visited with her in her Italian prison yesterday, said the family objects to the portrayal of Amanda in the movie.
"We, quite some time back, asked Hayden to visit Amanda, but they never got back to us after several conversations," Mellas said.
The stepfather said the family has made their objections known to the movie's producers.
"We have formalized our complaint against Lifetime," Mellas said.
"We have to act to protect Amanda, given the biased nature of the content in the trailer, and the unknown, and potentially harmful content of the actual film. The movie harms Amanda's presumption of innocence as afforded her by the Italian constitution," he said.
"It is ill timed and inappropriate in many ways, so we have no other choice but to protest its airing," Mellas said.
"For the Kercher family, it's just an unpleasant reminder, which I respect," said Robert Dornhelm, director of "Murder On Trial in Italy." "So, there's nothing I can do except doing it (making the film) lovingly, and the scenes with the daughter that I really tried to make as beautifully, sympathetically and caringly, and not have unnecessary violence or exploitation "
"It's a very controversial topic and it can very much go both ways but the way the script's written is really good, it's a really good way of writing it and I don't think people are going to have a problem with it, it's pretty fact driven and ends right where she gets convicted," said Hayden Panettiere.
Knox was sentenced to 26 years and Sollecito to 25 years; they are appealing their convictions. Guede's appeals have already been rejected, and he was sentenced to 16 years.
Meredith Kercher's Family Finds Amanda Knox Movie "Distressing"
Kercher's family was taken aback by the trailer.
Kercher's father, John Kercher, told the London Sun that Kercher's mother Arline can't bear to watch the preview and he found it upsetting.
"Your imagination runs riot as it is about what happened," John Kercher told the newspaper. "But to actually see it like this is very distressing. The scenes are absolutely horrific.
"It's awful what these film people have done," he said.
"I'm surprised they have gone so far. I was told the original brief of the film was to take it up to the point of the killing but not actually show the killing," the father said.
John Kercher wants the trailer pulled from the Internet.
Arline Kercher is upset by everything about the film.
"I said a few months back I didn't understand why the film was called Amanda Knox when my daughter was the victim," she told the Sun.
The trailer shows Knox, a 20-year-old student from Seattle at the time, portrayed by Panettiere, and Sollecito in a steamy bed scene. At one point the Italian prosecutor states ominously, "Under the angel face, she is capable of anything."
The dark view of Knox, now 23, has upset her family as well. Sollecito's lawyers have also denounced the movie.
Knox was visited today by Mellas and her best friend Madison Paxton, who has since moved to Italy.
Trailer for Amanda Knox Movie Upsets Families
"Amanda had her hour outside right before her visit," Mellas told ABC News. "She was very upbeat and happy. In spite of her situation, she was quite upbeat. The weather is a good distraction for her." It was a sunny day in Perugia yesterday with the temperatures in the 60s.
Knox has been reported to be depressed over her long incarceration for a crime that she insists she did not commit.
John Kercher has lashed out before about the attention that Knox has received. When she began her appeal last year wrote in a British newspaper that he regretted that the woman convicted of killing his daughter had become a "minor celebrity."
Besides the movie, several books have been written about Knox.